Florida Spring Game - D Shines In Practice
2013 Florida Gators ... Head Coach: Will Muschamp
What Happened In The Spring Game?
| 2013 Schedule|
9/7 at Miami
9/14 OPEN DATE
9/28 at Kentucky
10/12 at LSU
10/19 at Missouri
10/26 OPEN DATE
11/2 Georgia (in Jacksonville)
11/16 at South Carolina
11/23 Georgia Southern
11/30 Florida State
The Gators didn’t come up with a true spring game with several key offensive linemen banged up, so it was a glorified practice open to the public. While the defense dominated and looked like there’s plenty of hope for business as usual up front, part of the reason was because the offense continues to struggle. The passing game hasn’t shown enough pop with the receivers failing to make much noise this offseason.
- The big problem this spring was finding enough offensive linemen to play around with the depth. The coaching staff will have to wait until fall to find the right combination.
- Matt Jones will be the new starting running back. The 6-2, 206-pound sophomore is a pounder who fits the offense almost perfectly. He’ll be the new Mike Gillislee.
- So how is Jeff Driskel doing? The Gator quarterback has been okay this spring, but not sensational, failing to blow the top off the defense and continuing to rely mostly on his running ability.
Why To Be Excited ... The brutal performance against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl might have been the best thing that could’ve happened to the Gators. The team needs to upgrade and improve in several areas, and a dominant win with a 12-1 record might have given a false sense that everything worked – now, motivation won’t be a problem. The talent from some phenomenal recruiting classes is still there with 13 starters returning along with punter Kyle Christy, and now it’s time for some of the prep hype to turn into production. Several key spots are open and there should be a few great battles to form a rotation, but on straight speed and athleticism, few teams in America can match the Gators.
The secondary might have lost safety Matt Elam, but Loucheiz Purifoy is on the NFL radar as one of the nation’s best corners and there’s enough versatility to play around with corner Jaylen Watkins and a few other options. On the other side, yes, Jeff Driskel really is that good and now he should get a chance to open it up a bit, however …
Why To Be Grouchy ... Can the offensive line start to keep Driskel upright? He held on to the ball way too long at times – Exhibit A being the Sugar Bowl loss – but he also didn’t get much help. Tackle Xavier Nixon is gone, but he was a turnstile, and now it’ll be up to the rest of the line to show it can do more than blast away for the ground game. While there are some excellent prospects who haven’t panned out yet in the backfield, losing pounding runner Mike Gillislee will be a problem early on.
Yes, Driskel is good enough to flip a switch and turn into the big-time playmaker and passer many expected him to be coming out of high school, but for that to happen he needs at least one of the disappointing Gator receivers to turn into a productive, reliable target. The leading receiver, tight end Jordan Reed, took off early, and there will be an open casting call this offseason to find wideouts who can make things happen because …
What Needs Working On ... The offense has to find a passing game. Penalties were a consistent bother, and the offensive line has to be far tighter, but more than anything, the SEC’s worst air attack has to start opening up a little bit. Defense, running game and special teams were good enough to get the Gators to the doorstep of the BCS championship, but to take another step further, the O has to start taking a few more risks after hitting the 200 yard mark in passing just twice. Four of the five interceptions thrown came in the two losses, but picks aren’t going to be the end of the world considering the defense will almost always be able to bail the team out. This spring needs to unearth a few surprises at receiver, and now it’s time to start experimenting and start breaking out of the shell.
Team Concerns For 2013: The forward pass has to be rediscovered. Step One is giving Jeff Driskel more time to throw the ball a year after the line had so many problems in pass protection, but it would help if Driskel was able to get the ball out of his hands faster. Considering the overall talent on the defensive front seven, even with a few losses, the pass rush has to be steadier and more of a factor. Overall, the penalties have to stop after sinning a whopping 105 times compared to just 77 from the opponents.
Non-Conference Games: Toledo, at Miami, Georgia Southern
Games Against The West: Alabama, at Mississippi State
Realistic Best Case Record: 12-0
Worst Case Record: 7-5
Likely Finish: 10-2
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Toledo, at Miami, Tennessee, at Kentucky, Arkansas, at Missouri, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, Florida State
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at LSU, at South Carolina
Schedule Analysis: The Gators don’t get much time to tune up starting out with a tough game against a good Toledo team with a great offense. Then comes the dogfight with what’s sure to be an emotional fight at Miami against a team looking to make a major statement. With a week off, everything should be ready to go to start the SEC season with Tennessee coming to town. Fortunately, it doesn’t get too much easier in conference play with four of the first five games – Tennessee, at Kentucky, Arkansas and at Missouri – against teams that didn’t go bowling last year. But the fifth game is the bear.
Playing Arkansas from the West isn’t a bad deal, but things quickly change the week after with a trip to LSU to mark the start of a long stretch away from Ben Hill Griffin. Throw in an off week and the Georgia game in Jacksonville and Florida goes from October 5th to November 9th without a home game. Not only are the Georgia and LSU games away from home, but so is the showdown against South Carolina. Georgia Southern is a break before finishing up with Florida State.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive back. Even with a top class full of skill players last season, the Gators were still able to get
running backs Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane to add more flash, and Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson to help the receiving corps and JUCO transfer Trenton Brown
to join Trevon Young for the O line. However, the secondary is going to shine with this haul grabbing top corner Vernon Hargreaves III and safeties Marcell Harris, Kanu Neal and Nick Washington good enough to start right away almost anywhere else.
The defensive front is getting some help, too, with linebackers Alex Anzalone, Matt Rolio and Daniel McMillin along with JUCO transfer Darius Cummings for the defensive line
all excellent prospects. The stars came on Signing Day with Jaynard
Bostwick at tackle and JUCO transfer Jarran Reed two big-time gets.
Don't overlook the late signing of punter Johnny Townsend, arguably the
best in the nation.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
5. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive firepower. The Gators haven’t had a superior running game in years, and the offense sputtered and coughed throughout last season. QB Jeff Driskel was the star of last year’s class and could be the franchise, but he’ll have to battle for the job and he’ll need more playmakers. However, that’s not coming with this class that’s full of next-level defensive prospects.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 21. That Class Was Heavy On ... Jeff Driskel. The 2010 Florida recruiting class was so phenomenal that there wasn’t anything that Will Muschamp could do, or needed to do, to try to upgrade the overall talent level. However, being Florida, the stars still signed with several terrific defensive backs including safety Marcus Roberson and corner Valdez Showers, a great running back in Mike Blakely, and a top punter in Kyle Christy. But the class will most likely be remembered for anything that top quarterback Jeff Driskel does. While he’s extremely mobile, under the tutelage of Charlie Weis he’s expected to be something special. No one’s
expecting him to be another Tim Tebow, but … let’s just say the expectations are through the roof.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 1. That Class Was
Heavy On ... NFL players.
Yeeeeeeeesh. Everything worked for the terrific
Florida class as Urban Meyer's health concerns
didn't turn out to be a problem in any way.
The Gators got 13 players (but it's probably over
15) that would be the crown jewel in the class of
roughly 110 other programs including Mack Brown, a
lightning fast back who might finally be the one to
give Meyer the feature back he's been searching for.
Chris Dunkley, Adrian Coxson, and Solomon Patton
might have started, or at least would've seen time,
at wide receiver last year and should be key parts
of this year's team, offensive tackles Chaz Green
and Ian Silberman will be starting at the next level
if they can effectively add 20 pounds of muscle, and
Sharrif Floyd out of Philadelphia and Dominique
Easley from New York City might be the nation's two
best defensive line prospects. And then there's the
secondary. Matt Elam and Jonathan Dowling are tall,
talented safeties, and Jaylen Watkins, Joshua Shaw
and Cody Riggs are special corner prospects.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 13. That Class Was
Heavy On ... quality over quantity. While there were a few misfires with the Gators not getting everyone they were hoping for, especially after the national title season, the stars they did get were top-shelf. Xavier Nixon might be the nation’s best offensive tackle prospect, Jelani Jenkins is arguably the top linebacker, Gary Brown is among the best defensive tackles, Nick Alajajian and Jonotthan Harrison are among the best guards, and Andre Debose is a top receiver. There aren’t a lot of prospects for each spot, so if the stars bust, there isn’t a lot to fall back on.